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Exposure to Chlordecone and Male Fertility in Guadeloupe (French West Indies)

Multigner, L*; Kadhel, P; Huc-Terki, F; Thome, J P§; Janky, E; Auger, J

ISEE/ISEA 2006 Conference Abstracts Supplement: Poster Abstracts: Abstracts
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*INSERM U625, Rennes. †Gynecologie - Obstetrique, CHU Guadeloupe, Pointe a Pitre. ‡CIMT Guadeloupe, Basse Terre. §Laboratoire Ecologie Animale - Ecotoxicologie, Liege. ¶Biologie Reproduction - CECOS, CHU Cochin, Paris.

P-352

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Introduction:

Chlordecone, a chlorinated insecticide, is one of the 17 chemicals currently regulated by the Stockholm convention on persistant organic pollutants. Toxicological studies have shown that chlordecone is an endocrine disruptor which interferes with reproduction, including male fertility. In 1975, male workers acutely exposed to high levels of chlordecone in a factory in Hopewell (Virginia) during its manufacture experienced reduced sperm count and reduced sperm motility. Chlordecone was used from early 1970 until 1993 in the French West Indies in banana plantations for the control of banana root borer. A series of measurements undertaken from 1999 revealed a significant chlordecone contamination of the natural environments of French West Indies, including soils, river waters, spring waters, vegetables and animal local food resources. We aimed to determine the current level of chlordecone body burden in the adult male population in Guadeloupe and to investigate its relationship with fertility.

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Methods:

A cross-sectional study was carried out to assess semen quality, reproductive hormones and chlordecone concentration in the blood of 100 healthy men regularly followed by occupational physicians. Semen analyses were carried out according to WHO recommendations. Hormones were measured by conventional radioimmunological procedures. Gas chromatography coupled to electron capture detection was used to measure chlordecone in serum.

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Results:

Serum chlordecone was detected in 88 of 100 men (limit of detection ∼1 ng/ml) and quantified in 78 of them (limit of quantification ∼3 ng/ml). The geometric mean serum level was 8,2 ng/ml (range: 3,1 – 104,5). Slightly levels were found in banana workers (GM: 10,7; 3,3 – 104,5) when compared to men who worked in non-agricultural sectors and had never applied pesticides in any circumstances (GM: 8,4; 3,1 – 46,6). Seminal characteristics (semen volume, sperm concentration, output, motility and morphology) as well FSH, LH, Inhibin B, testosterone and estradiol serum levels showed no significant correlation with chlordecone concentration in blood.

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Conclusions:

We show high levels of body contamination by chlordecone in Guadeloupean male population. Occupational exposure but mainly local food resources consumption may explain such impregnation. However, current exposure levels are not associated with a significant effect on seminal quality or blood reproductive hormone levels. These results are in agreement with previous observation showing that the threshold for abnormally low seminal characteristics was of 1000 ng/ml in workers victims of the Hopewell factory disaster.

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